Gary Anderson masterminds comeback to set-up quarter-final tie
Gary Anderson produced a sublime comeback from 4-1 down to see off Michael Smith 10-6 with a 107 average as the Scot stormed through to set up a bwin Grand Slam of Darts quarter-final with Mensur Suljovic in Wolverhampton on Wednesday.
An explosive start from both players saw former World Youth Champion Smith claim legs of 12 and 11 darts and a 110 finish as he won four of the first five legs against his mentor, with a 124 checkout being Anderson's only response.
However, a 164 checkout in leg six sparked a run of seven straight legs for the Scot as he moved into an 8-4 advantage.
Smith took out 68 and double ten to keep his hopes alive at 9-6, but Anderson fired home double two to complete his comeback and remain on course for a second Wolverhampton final.
"I was in trouble for a while there but I'd missed a couple of doubles and I could have been 3-2 up when I was 4-1 down," said Anderson.
"Michael was tremendous for those first four or five legs and he's something else when he gets going but then he wavers a little. If he'd kept it up he would probably have won 10-2 or something."
Anderson has lost his last three games against Suljovic, including September's Champions League of Darts final, but is aiming to end that run in Friday's quarter-final.
"He's a lovely lad and he deserves all the success he's having - but I hate playing him," added the number three seed. "He's a fantastic player but he's so hard to play against!"
Suljovic had earlier ended the hopes of brave Berry van Peer with a clinical 10-2 triumph in their second round tie.
Dutch youngster Van Peer has emotionally battled against dartitis to win through his group in the £450,000 tournament, defeating Simon Whitlock and Cameron Menzies to reach the last 16.
However he saw his run ended as Suljovic - who had given the 21-year-old advice on how to cope with the condition earlier in the event - proved too strong with a high-quality display.
Suljovic claimed the game's opening seven legs without reply as he capitalised on four missed doubles from Van Peer, took out finishes of 110, 90 and 80 plus an 11-darter to pull clear.
Van Peer checked out 96 and 119 as he hit back, but three further missed doubles allowed Suljovic in to secure his first Wolverhampton quarter-final appearance with a 106 average and ten doubles from 15 attempts.
"Berry has a problem with dartitis but he is a super player and he played well," said Suljovic. "I was focused on my game and I played brilliant darts - my doubles were good and it was a perfect night.
"I'm happy that I won and I feel really good."
Lakeside Champion Glen Durrant became the first BDO player to reach the quarter-finals since 2013 as he overcame Dave Chisnall 10-8 with another solid performance.
Durrant took out a 161 finish as he claimed a 3-1 lead early on, only for missed doubles to allow Chisnall back in to square the contest following ten legs.
The Middlesbrough ace, though, found another gear to finish 87, 86 and 71 as he moved into a 9-7 lead before closing out a solid win with a 99.33 average.
"To be in the quarter-finals feels so good," said Durrant. "I'd targeted reaching the quarter-finals before the event but now I'm there I want to enjoy the moment.
"I'm flying the flag for the BDO and I'm really proud to be in the quarter-finals, but there's more to come from me. I feel so comfortable and I'm loving every second on that stage.
"I was disappointed to be five-all at the second break but I thought back to last year, when I was in the same position but then lost to Raymond van Barneveld, composed myself and came out firing. On my throw I played really well."
Durrant now faces a quarter-final tie with Peter Wright on Friday night - six days after defeating the UK Open champion with a brilliant display in their opening Group E game.
Wright secured his last eight place with a dominant 10-4 win over Stephen Bunting in their second round meeting, averaging 103 and finishing ten doubles from 19 attempts.
The Scot moved into an early 3-1 lead before Bunting produced a 12-darter to respond, but Wright took out a brilliant 161 checkout in a run of five straight legs to move 8-2 up.
Bunting produced back-to-back legs - including seven perfect darts in an attempt at a perfect leg - as he pulled back to 8-4 but Wright was not to be denied as he moved into the last eight.
"It was always going to be a tough game and I had to play well because Stephen has been coming back into form," said Wright. "We had a fantastic game in the World Grand Prix and he let me off then so I had to be on form today.
"The second session of five legs was very important when I got clear of him. I felt like I hit lots of 140s but not as many 180s as I wanted, but my finishing wasn't too bad and I'm getting better and better with these darts."
The second round concludes on Thursday with the remaining four matches, headlined by reigning champion Michael van Gerwen taking on Irish youngster Steve Lennon, who has reached the last 16 on his Wolverhampton debut.
"I'm feeling good and now that the format is longer it's better for me," said Van Gerwen. "I love the longer games because you're less nervous and you can settle down.
"I've played well in the groups but I can still improve and I'm confident."
Six-time winner Phil Taylor takes on Darren Webster - who won 5-0 when the pair met in last year's group stage - while 2012 champion Raymond van Barneveld faces shooting star Rob Cross.
Daryl Gurney plays two-time finalist James Wade, who bounced back from a loss in his opening group match on Saturday to qualify for the knockout stage of the tournament with a win over Taylor on Tuesday.
"I'm not playing as well as I can do but I showed in moments against Phil that I can hurt people when I get it right," said Wade. "I'm practising hard and if I do what I can do then it's an enjoyable game."
Tickets for the bwin Grand Slam of Darts are available through www.wolvescivic.co.uk or by calling 0870 320 7000.